How Charities helped to win the War
More than 18,000 charities were set up during the course of the war. Most of these provided essential items like clothing, medication, books, food and general support for those fighting and also provided help for those who were injured, whilst others provided overseas aid.
The Royal family played a big part in helping to support charities and their backing was paramount to the charities success. The Prince of Wales, Prince Edward, became treasurer for the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund which provided help for those soldiers suffering from 'industrial stress'. Within one week of the fund being launched, the donations amounted to over £1,000,000.
|First World War period playing cards made in England by De La Rue and Company (London) for distribution to service personnel via 'The Prince of Wales National Relief Fund 1914'.
© IWM (EPH 2506)
Wartime fund raising became a way of life and throughout the country money was raised through church sales, village fetes, dances, and street collections.
The War Refugees Committee coordinated efforts when donations of goods and money poured in and they relied on over 2000 volunteers to get the aid to where it was most needed.
The National Egg collection was launched in November 1914 and initially the aim was to send 20,000 fresh eggs for those soldiers who were recuperating in the military hospital in Boulogne. The scheme was so successful that by August 1915, over 1,030,380 eggs were received. A special collection warehouse was organised by Harrods and free rail transport was provided to take the eggs to the Western Front. Even young children were encouraged to give away their breakfast egg.
|© IWM (Art.IWM PST 10836)
Newspapers also ran appeals for money, and soldiers on active service received an interesting array of items including sports equipment, gramophones and records, books, musical instruments and board games.
Gifts of tobacco and cigarettes were very popular and the Smokes for Wounded Soldiers And Sailors Society raised funds through their ‘Fag Day’ appeals which helped to distribute more than a billion cigarettes.
|© IWM (EPH 2285)
Up until 1916 raising money was largely unregulated until the War Charities Act 1916 made registration for public appeals compulsory and gave local authorities the power to control fund raising activities.
The work of the charities continued after the end of the war when money continued to be raised and some First World War Charities are still active today :
Royal British Legion
Blind Veterans UK ( formerly St Dunstan’s)
Save the Children
Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund